Gov. Kim Reynolds is one of two governors serving on the president’s Workforce Advisory Board—and for good reason. Her home state of Iowa leads the nation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs and innovative work-based learning opportunities for high school students.
These student apprenticeship programs have transformed the classroom and provided opportunities for students to test out careers in high-demand industries across Iowa, including engineering, nursing, health care, and more. The results have been game changing for students and families across the state.
“I’ve actually had the opportunity to have Ivanka Trump and Apple CEO Tim Cook come to Iowa and visit one of our STEM BEST—which is Business Engaging Students and Teachers—programs, and both of them walked away saying this is what the future of education should look like,” says Gov. Reynolds.
The Reynolds administration understands that workforce preparedness starts early. They bring private sector business leaders and educators together to provide high schoolers with pathways to employment outside of the traditional four-year university degree. These include apprenticeship programs that give students the chance to “earn while they learn.”
For example, a high school, a business, and a community college in Iowa have jointly created a welding apprenticeship program that allows high schoolers to join a company for training as early as freshman year. The students participating in the program have earned $50,000 over the last two years of high school alone.
Apprenticeship programs allow people to experience the power of work without the burdens of expensive licensing requirements and massive student debt. Ninety percent of apprenticeships lead to employment, which reduces dependency and boosts the economy—good things for all Iowans.
“Not everybody needs a four year degree,” Gov. Reynolds explains. “This really provides opportunities to kids, it gets them engaged and involved in their communities, and with our job creators. On top of that, they have no debt!”